More than half of people who used brown bins have turned their backs on the service since Highland Council introduced charges, new figures have revealed.
The garden waste recycling facility was free until earlier this year when the council brought in a £30 charge as part of budget cuts totalling £20 million.
There was a huge backlash to the charge and, combined with council tax increases, many angry people refused to pay for the bins.
Now the local authority has revealed that 52 per cent of former bin owners have decided against stumping up for the service.
Despite this, the charge has earned £960,000 from 32,000 bins, smashing through the £660,000 target set during budget talks in February.
Councillors had based the expected income on a 33 per cent uptake, modelled on similar charges in Angus brought in last year.
But by June, the council’s deadline for the first collection under the chargeable service, more than 25,000 bins had been paid for making a profit of £754,000.
There are thought to be around 35,000 unused bins but the council has urged anyone who may want it in the future not to return their bin.
A council spokeswoman said about 30,000 bins are expected to be collected in December, at a cost of £2500.
"It will cost approximately £2500 for hired vehicles to collect potentially 30,000 brown bins and we will utilise existing staff to carry out the collections," she said.
"It is not possible to predict how many bins will be returned at this stage.
"The bins will be cleaned, checked and stored in each of the main depots and will be used to replace any damaged brown bins and to provide browns where we have area growth across the region."
Plans to roll out the bins to other areas have also been mooted, although it has yet to be decided where or when this will happen.
Each area will have a specific day for unwanted bins to be collected, between December 4 and December 15, available on the council’s website.